About trishburrow

Since an early age I have been fascinated by languages and how they open up new worlds and cultures to the language learner. Originally planning to become a translator, I studied French and Spanish to degree level, but found that I was often better translating into the other language than into English, which didn't bode well for a career in translating. I was lucky enough to spend my third year abroad teaching as the Language Assistant at the Official State Language School in Cadiz. I thoroughly enjoyed my year and was encouraged to explore methodology in depth and to experiment by my colleague and friend Vicky Samaniego. I returned to Leeds University enthused with the teaching of English and after graduating, enrolled in a CELTA course (or RSA CTEFLA as it was then known) at International House Newcastle. Little did I know it, but I was about to embark on a long and fruitful journey into ELT. Ih were then actively recruiting teachers for their Polish schools and I thought it would give me useful experience in knowing what my beginners' classes were going through. The weekly input sessions encouraged me to develop my teaching and over the years I went from being a trainee on the YL Extension and DELTA courses to becoming a CELTYL and CELTA tutor, supported all the while by my tutors Rachael Roberts and Jon Butt. Back in the UK I worked in an FE college for a year, teaching mainly FCE and IELTS to adults , but then made a move into the world of publishing when I started work at Cambridge English as the Subject Officer for the Cambridge Young Learners English (YLE) Tests. I was part of the team that conducted the 2007 review of the tests, analysing popular course materials in an attempt to make the tests more relevant to the digital generation. In 2008 I moved to Macmillan Publishers where I was the Commissioning Editor for Primary materials, first in the Spain group, then in the International Group. I learnt a huge amount about how to publish effective and attractive materials whilst at Macmillan and count Footprints, Way Ahead Tests, Grammar Goals and YLE Skills as my main achievements. Since leaving Macmillan I have become a freelance ELT writer and editor of Primary and occasionally Secondary materials. I work for multiple clients such as CUP, Macmillan, Pearson and Young Digital Planet so every day is different. I have recently become the project lead on a project to produce can-do statements for Young learners and am enjoying the challenges it brings. I am passionate about producing meaningful, motivating and enjoyable materials for children and teenagers learning English and hope to give you an insight into this through my blog. It's the first time I have written a blog so I am really excited to be doing this.

Children’s Picturebooks


I spent my tea break this afternoon reading We Completely Must Go to London. I’ve booked to see Lauren Child talk at Oxford’s Story Museum as part of the Literary Festival on Saturday 2nd April. I’m really looking forward to it. Tickets are still available so if you want to join me, please do.


New Ways of Working for New Ways of Learning [Event Round-Up]

A concise and informative update from emc design on Saturday’s MaWSIG Conference on New Ways of Working for New Ways of Learning. Find out what happened from this digest of tweets and photos!

emc design ltd

On Saturday Sophie from emc headed down to London to the beautiful Macmillan campus for MaWSIG’s conference ‘New Ways of Working for New Ways of Learning’.

The day was a real mix of practically looking at the ways in which our working practices have changed over recent years to how these have impacted the classrooms and learners we are all connected to, in some way or other.

Working smarter, not harder: the nine characteristics of the Productivity Ninja

Graham Alcott from Think Productive kicked off the day with his fantastic exploration into the messy and muddled way in which we work in ever quickening and complex teams and organisations. He also looked at the way in which we add our own stresses to this mix by heaping pressure on ourselves to be quicker, think better, do longer all of the time, which inevitably is counter-productive. Taking 9 areas he suggested small, do-able adjustments to…

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An unexpectedly quiet week

Insights from Karen White of White Ink Limited on how to productively fill rare downtime. I had some downtime in January and caught up on my paperwork for my next tax return. I then treated myself to a Friday yoga class and then watched Oklahoma on DVD in the afternoon. The perfect end to what started out as a slightly unnerving week.

White Ink Limited

Here are a couple of snippets from conversations I had with a client last week …

Me: Can you help me prioritise the tasks I need to do this week? I know I need to do a, b, c, d, e, f, g, and possibly h, but I’m not sure which are most urgent.
Client: Sure. Please do c, f, e, h, a, b, d, then g. If you finish those, do i, j and k.

Me: I think I’ve nearly finished. Can that be right?
Client: I think so. Have a good weekend.

Having worked flat out on this project for a couple of months, it seemed incredible that I’d been so engrossed in meeting the deadlines of last week that I’d totally failed to notice that everything would be off my desk this week. So imagine my surprise when I sat down on Monday morning and realised…

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YLs Teacher Training Course – Sessions 7 & 8

I am currently working on updating Sessions 7 and 8 of my YLs Teacher Training Course.

Session 7 needs permission from published authors, including Michael Rosen and Jane Revell, so it may go up on the blog after Session 8.

The theme of Session 7 is Valuing Children and looks at the expectations we have of learners as well as ourselves as children’s teachers.

Session 8 covers the difference between Process and Product, by which I mean examining our activities for the children’s motivation to do them as well as our language teaching objectives.

I’m aiming to find time in the UK half-term next week to update at least one of these two sessions, so do look out for them.

As ever, thanks for reading and feel free to send me your feedback.

February update

I start February energised after the fabulous 2nd ELT Freelancers’ Awayday in Oxford at the end of last month.

It was organised by Karen White of @KarenWhiteInk and Helen Holwill and took place at the Hawkwell Hotel in Iffley, Oxford.

In the morning, Sophie O’Rourke and her colleagues from emc design gave a fascinating insight into how designers, media researchers and editors can work smarter.

In addition to this, there were two workshop slots with ten topics to discuss everything from creating a digital brand to adapting to working from home. I am now a new face on Twitter! See @trishburrowelt and share your thoughts and encourage me to learn more. You can also find out more about the event by following ELT Freelancers.

To end the day, Lorna Membury and Charlotte Webb from OUP presented on their new workflow designed to facilitate lean management of the content and copy editing process.

The event was a brilliant way to connect and reconnect with ELT colleagues old and new and had ample space for discussions over coffee and lunch and then at the end-of-day drinks event sponsored by OUP. It was a sell out so I advise booking early for the 2017 event.

See you next January!

Dyslexia – A Problem or a Gift?

Really helpful advice on teaching students with dyslexia from Marie Delaney.

Oxford University Press

Student being helped by teacherMarie Delaney is a teacher, trainer, educational psychotherapist, and author of ‘Teaching the Unteachable’ (Worth). She will be hosting a webinar entitled “Dyslexia – A Problem or a Gift?” on 9th and 18th October.

What do Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Muhammed Ali have in common? They all found school and teachers difficult. Thomas Edison’s teacher sent a note home when Thomas was 6, which said “He is too stupid to learn”.

These successful people had dyslexia. Their teachers didn’t know much about dyslexia. They labeled them lazy and stupid. You may have students with dyslexia in your classes and not even know it. Often these learners are labeled slow, lazy, or daydreamers. It’s not true. In order to help these learners, we, as teachers, need to understand more about it.

What is dyslexia?

As you read this, are the letters clear to you, are any moving…

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YLs Teacher Training Course – Session 6 Involving and Occupying Activities

As most UK and some overseas schools have now been back for a week, here is the sixth session of my 10-week Teacher Training course for teachers of Young Learners.

Session 6 examines the fundamental principles of providing a balance of involving and occupying activities in children’s lessons. Trainees take part in a demonstration of a common range of primary age lesson activities. They then discuss whether they will appropriately challenge and include the children in their classes, and if not, how they can adapt the activities to achieve this aim.

I hope you find these materials useful and relevant to your teaching context. Do please let me know if you have any feedback or questions.

YLs TT course – Session 6 Involving and Occupying activities

Research into task design of assessment tasks for YLs

I am making available an MA assignment I wrote a while ago about the design of assessment tasks for children. In it, I examine how tasks which effectively assess the language ability of children can be designed. It was written while I was working at Cambridge English as a Subject Officer for the YLE tests and I refer to the research the tests underwent as part of the 2007 review of the YLE tests.

NB The two internal documents from Cambridge English are not publicly accessible (Guidelines for Oral Examiner Training and Coordination and Instructions to Oral Examiners) Also note that the latest YLE information is available online: http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/young-learners-english/ 

I hope you enjoy reading my MA assignment.

YLs Teacher Training Course Session 5 Lesson Planning

As we head towards one of the busiest periods of the year in UK and some overseas schools, here is the fifth session of my 10-week Teacher Training course for teachers of Young Learners.

Session 5 looks at the fundamental principles of planning lessons for children. Trainees are invited to brainstorm the issues they have and the aims they wish to achieve in their lessons. They then look at a sample lesson plan with post-lesson observations written in by the teacher and discuss the strengths of the lesson and action points. They finish by reviewing their lesson plans (see Session 4 for this) and by considering global and specific ways to improve their lesson planning.

I hope you find these materials useful and relevant to your teaching context. Do please let me know if you have any feedback or questions.

YL Teacher Training Course Session 5 – Lesson Planning